Here is a quick one…
In the campaign game, enemy fleets never retreat. They should. That might increase the number of ships captured–which experience and IMHO wouldn’t be a bad thing–and it adds to the fog of war.
Each fleet might have a morale factor, hidden from the player–the classic “break point” of tabletop gaming. When that percent is reached, the enemy will attempt to flee. One side wins and captures what’s left at 10% as usual. But at some small additional percentage, the enemy fleet tries to flee.
Perhaps the flee chance ranges from 1-10%, which is added to the base 10%. Or 0-9 %. Or 0-5%. Whatever. At +3% the enemy fleet would turn and run when its damage reads 13% in the upper right hand corner.
More difficult to code, I imagine, would be a more elegant algorithm that assesses each side’s sheer numbers. If I roll into a system with 20k hit points and the defender has 5k, the defender should run. (This would keep this from happening: Enemy attacks. I retreat. I attack next turn with fleet able to handle the enemy. One cruiser, instead of the fleet I retreated from, is present. Auto-deploy, fight, wait the minute or two it takes to kill the enemy cruiser. Zero chance of capture (with one enemy ship, it’ll be 100 percent or 0) and in general a total waste of the player’s time.) Even better, I’d like the option to decline battle BEFORE the fight screen–and if players had that, enemy fleets could decline battle before the battle screen even comes up.
Back to the algorithm: if the sides are reasonably matched, pointwise, then the retreat calculation might pay attention to how quickly the spread between percentage loss widens, and how much it widens. Sides start 100 100, with friendly on left, enemy on right. If in 2 minutes of battle the spread goes to 90 50, the enemy should have an increased chance of retreat (checked every minute or so, perhaps).
Just a thought regarding all those die hard, fanatic fleets one meets in the campaign game. A bit more variety in behavior–a whole new kind of behavior, in fact, would be welcome. And interesting…